Collection Skills Training Magazine Section


“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

listening skills in debt collectionI feel like pontificating right at the outset of this article.

In life, I wish we could all learn to LISTEN!

Have you heard a child say: "My parents don't listen!” or a parent say: "My kid doesn't listen!” or an employee say: "My boss doesn't listen!” or a boss say: "The employees don't listen!” or a husband say: "My wife doesn’t listen!" or a wife say: "My spouse doesn’t listen!" or a teacher say: "The students don't listen!” ... I'm sure by now you are getting the sense of where I'm going with this!

In this fast, instant-gratification-seeking, and tweeting world, is ‘Listening’ a dying art? Here is a thought: Customer service reps in call centres often are held at gunpoint with short average-call-handling-time key performance metrics. Could that contribute to short-circuiting vital listening parameters when listening itself is an empirical exercise in patience?      

I have a cousin that has a habit of saying "I hear Ya!" a lot. I assume it’s just vernacular. Recently while we were in the middle of a conversation, he received a text message to which he promptly began replying. During texting he tried to continue with our conversation, and every now-and-then he would make momentary eye contact, blurt "I hear Ya!" and then get back in to typing his reply on his smart phone.

"I hear Ya!" is an idiom that is supposed to mean "I understand what you are saying!". So in the above scenario, 'Does Hearing equate to Listening'?  If 'Not' then does Hearing equate to Understanding? You be the judge!

Listening is a 'must-have' and a 'much-needed' skill in debt collection. Being vernacular doesn't cut it. This art requires an anatomy of "ALL EARS"!

In the debt collection role, you need to 'understand' what people are saying and you need to be 'understood' by people with whom you are conversing.

So what is the logic to achieve this double-edged sword of understand and understood?  Here is a simple hypothesis: The best way to understand people is to listen to them, if you listen to them you earn the right to be heard and when you earn your right to be heard you can make your case to be understood. Sounds simple? Maybe not!

There is tremendous 'noise-factor' that gets added to listening when you are in the act of hearing the other person out. Here are some key noise-factors: preconceived notions, making assumptions, being judgemental, ego, unwarranted distractions, the urge to respond prematurely, jumping to complete the other person’s sentences, internal dialogue with self (wandering-off), planning your next move or counter argument, lack of respect, lack of empathy, the ‘It’s my way or the highway kind of attitude’, the 'I know' attitude, being ill informed, rushed to end the conversation, distracted with technology and on-screen information-overload.

If you wish to indulge in the warmth of quality listening then seek the noise-cancelling kind of headphone that blocks all the unwanted distractions. This would be my plug for the ideal kind of virtual collection headphone!

Happy Listening... and are you having difficulty finding that priceless virtual headphone?...Well, I hear Ya!!  

Author: Puru Grover, M.B.A., LL.M. © Credit Guru Inc |

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